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Remembering warmth

I am the person who is perpetually cold on airplanes. I fly to the Equator wrapped in a pashmina, to a desert in a coat. The layers are a necessary hug in the middle of transition, as though I need to hold myself tight to face the new winds.

And then there is always that moment of stepping out of the airplane and into the warmth. The shedding of the layers, of skin that does not feel necessary anymore. The return to warmth has always felt like a release, like a return to self. For four years, while I was working in the field of gender and armed conflict, I shuttled from desert lands to countries straddling the Equator. My bones forgot winter. When I first landed in Boston, I did so with a nostalgia for the seasons and a commitment to celebrating them.

Celebrate I did. I photographed fall with the curiosity of what Mary Oliver calls “a bride married to amazement.” I was born for colored leaves and crisp mornings, and for summer seas and pebbles, and for winter icicles hanging from trees. As I wrote in my latest column on The Equals Record, experiencing and documenting the passage of time has always held a certain fascination, even if there is no surprise involved to this exercise: fall will come, and spring will, too — all evidence to the contrary.

I may have arrived here having forgotten winter, but I have lived it so intimately this year that all of me feels like winter. I feel the wind chill when there is none, I have come to expect its greeting when I step out of the front door. As such, when I stepped out of an airport into warm air last week, memories came rushing back, not only of climates and places, but also memories of myself wrapped in warmth.

There is something to be said about our warm-weather selves. They abandon shoes in favor of sandals and cherish the sound of flip-flops on marble. They like lemonade and porches. They wake up to wind chimes and mirror the lightness of dream-catchers. They dream more. They say ‘yes’ with lightness. They have one more drink, one more idea. They linger to look at the sunset or the morning light. They find the light more easily in the first place.

Here is a glimpse into my own warmer weather self, a remembrance of light and lightness, a wink at the  whimsical self that can seasonally emerge out of the darkness.

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